As we continue the summer of 80s music videos, let’s check out Rockit by Herbie Hancock. How exactly is this an unusual video? Let me count the ways.
The robot apartment set was designed by Godley & Creme, formerly half of the band 10cc. The video for Rockit was one of two Godley & Creme creations to be nominated for MTV Video of the Year 1984, along with The Police’s Every Breath You Take. Both lost to the video I’ll profile next time.
Rockit was performed by an African-American artist at a time when some MTV executives were afraid of scaring off white suburban viewers. That’s reportedly why Hancock only appears on a television set in the robot apartment.
I can’t be sure what’s cause and effect, but videos with heavy doses of MTV airplay usually made it to the Billboard Top 10. Rockit was featured on MTV but never even made it to the top 40.
Hancock is really a (magnificent, renowned) jazz artist, not a pop star; he has never cracked the Billboard top 40. This may be the only crossover jazz song to get serious MTV airplay.
Finally, the most basic reason this video is unusual is that it’s an instrumental. You can count the significant 80s instrumental music videos on one hand. I can think of Art of Noise, which won for Most Experimental Video for Close (to the Edit), and that’s about it. Leave a comment if you can think of any others.